MI Police Chief Heads to Prison in ‘Pay-to-Play’ Scheme

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High-powered support seeking leniency for former Oakley, Mi., Police Chief Robert Reznick wasn’t enough to keep him out of prison. A federal judge sentenced Reznick to more than a year behind bars and a year of supervised release after years of controversy and court battles, reports WJRT-TV in Flint, Mi. He also must pay more than $124,000 to the Internal Revenue Service, along with other fines and costs. Reznick pleaded guilty to wire fraud and tax fraud in March. Federal sentencing guidelines called for a 12 to 18-month prison sentence. U.S. District Judge Thomas Ludington opted for the low end of the range at 366 days.

Before Thursday’s sentencing, dozens of friends and colleagues sent letters to Ludington backing a a probation sentence with no prison. Investigators say 60-year-old Reznick operated a sort of pay-to-play scheme with Oakley’s reserve police unit. He used his position to obtain reduced prices on firearms, ammunition and other equipment from suppliers, then sold it to reserve officers for personal profit. Reznick claimed the weapons and ammunition was used for police work, but most of it never was. Reznick recruited a roster of approximately 120 reserve officers, most of whom lived outside of Oakley. They included singer Kid Rock. Controversy over the reserve unit started in 2013 and has divided the town ever since. Village council members eventually disbanded the reserve program and Oakley now has one part-time police officer. Former Oakley Village Council member Francis Koski was not pleased with the sentence. “He walked out of there today with a gift, and the people who turned around and said they supported an admitted felon,” he said. Reznick said in court that he had the best intentions for expanding Oakley’s reserve police unit, but he acknowledged he should have managed it better.

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